Houshiary was born in Shiraz, Iran 1955. She moved to London in 1974. She studied at Chelsea School of Art, London 1976-1979, was Junior Fellow, Cardiff College of Art, 1979-1980, and her first solo exhibition was subsequently at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff in 1980.

She quickly became established at the forefront of the younger generation of sculptors working in Britain in the 1980s and her work was included in important group exhibitions such as Aperto ’82, XL Venice Biennale in 1982, and ‘Les Magiciensde la Terre’ at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris in 1989. Houshiary’s first solo show at the Lisson Gallery, London was in 1984, and she has continued to show there on a regular basis ever since. She had her first solo exhibition in New York at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in 1999. The Centre d’Art Contemporian, Geneve organised a solo museum show for the Musée Rath, Geneve in 1988, which then toured to the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1989. Her solo exhibition, Ishmus, was first shown at Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, before touring to the Museum Villa Stuck, München, the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, and Hochschule für Angewandete Kunst, Vienna in 1995-1996. Her work was included in the XXIII Bienal de São Paulo in 1996. ‘10 Intensita In Europa’ at Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato 1998. Skulptur Biennial Münsterland in 2003. ‘Art and Happiness’ Mori Art Museum Tokyo 2003. ‘Turning Points 20th Century British Sculpture’ at Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in 2004. ‘Without Boundary’ Museum of Modern Art New York 2006. Deloitte Ignite, Royal Opera House London 2008. ‘Between Metaphor and Object’ IMMA Dublin 2009 and Sydney Biennale 2010. ‘Arsenale’, Kiev Biennale, Kiev 2012. ‘Breath’Collateral Event of the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, Venice 2013. The International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia 2014. ‘Genius Loci’ – Spirit of Place, on the occasion of the 14th International Architecture Biennale, Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Venice. ‘Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art’ Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, 2015. ‘The River is Within Us’ Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore 2016. ‘The Grains Whirl and the Ripples Shift’ Espace Muraille Geneva Switzerland, 2016. ‘Glasstress 2017’ 57th Biennale di Venezia, Venice. Sculpture in the Close 2017, Jesus College, University of Cambridge. Breath installation at Everything At Once Vinyl Factory, London 2017.

She was short-listed for the Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery in 1994, and was awarded the title Professor at the London Institute in 1997. Houshiary lives and works in London.